Monday, March 23, 2009

Trendspotting: Resto Hardware Goes Steampunk

Out of sheer boredom, I found myself thumbing through a copy of the current Restoration Hardware catalog this weekend. Nothing against RH. It's tasteful, well-made stuff. Just a little traditional -- and, OK, boring -- for my taste.

Anyway, I was surprised to note that many of the company's new offerings (such as its Mayfair Steamer Trunks, above, and Furniture Factory Cart, below) are looking decidedly steampunk-y.

If you're not familiar with it, steampunk is a subculture with its roots in fantasy and sci-fi fiction. But rather than envisioning a bleak, dystopian future, steampunk reimagines a romantic past, melding the look of Victorian England, the Industrial Revolution, and the sort of charming contraptions that H.G. Wells might have dreamed up.

Clockwise from top left, a sampling of Resto's contribution to "steampunk style": Library Magnifier, $79; Victorian Binoculars, $99; Tabletop Telescope, $229; Porthole Mirror, $199; Barclay Sofa, $2,545; Royal Marine Tripod Floor Lamp, $1,250; Mayfair Steamer Chest, $2,295; Mayfair Steamer Cube, $995; Half-Mile Ray Search Light Floor Lamp, $695; Ship's Clock, $249

I'm intrigued by the steampunk aesthetic, but I also find it a bit heavy and masculine -- a little too Edwardian Gentleman's Club, let's say -- and perhaps a tad affected to want to replicate in a big way at home. Still, it's interesting to see a big-name retailer (especially one that's not necessarily known for following trends) jump on the steampunk train.

P.S. More -- much, much more -- on the steampunk phenomenon right here.


Pigtown-Design said...

Agree. Seriously, how many houses could have that wagon/coffee table in them and still look normal?

helwen said...

It isn't supposed to look normal (whatever that is).

I agree that most of the commercial representations are rather masculine. Probably the DIY science inventions aspect of things there. But that doesn't mean one can't give it some feminine touches.

Fabric choices in draperies -- damask, brocade, chinoiserie, toile, velvet, maybe with fringe, etc.). Lace or crochet table runners or cloths. A fabric lampshade with beaded fringe.

Throw in some Victorian English or 18th/19th c. Chinese imports -- lamps, vases, serving platter, curios, jewelry/treasure/trinket boxes. Maybe get a nice Oriental rug to anchor the space you're working on (under the living room or dining room table).

Since the time period focussed on in the books tends to be Victorian, there's no reason not to throw in some elements of traditional Victorian style, along with the 'Steamier' aspects, and in fact I think it helps to support it. If you look at how Captain Nemo's submarine was done up for the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, even though it's all glass and metal, there is a lot of ornamentation that isn't necessary to the running of the submarine -- purely there for aesthetics.

Anyway, just my two cents.

Leah said...

Oh, Pigtown -- "normal" is so overrated ... ;-)

Janus Home said...

Interesting that Restoration Hardware is offering a "limited edition" vintage piece. I have one for sale as well, obviously a bargain at only $695!

MariaB said...

Hi all, heres some more steampunk gear


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